Snohomish County Public Utility District No. 1

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Customer Service (M-F 8a-5:30p): 425-783-1000

Service Problems FAQs

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What can cause light bulbs to blow out frequently?

Voltage in an electric system is much like pressure in a water system. The voltage level drops the further the electricity travels away from the substation. As a result, the voltage delivered to customers will vary depending upon how close they are to the substation. To guarantee that customers at the end of the distribution circuit get electricity that is within the national standard of at least 114 volts, the voltage coming out of the substation can be as high as 126 volts.

Most household light bulbs are rated to handle 120 volts. (It should say on the top of the bulb.) Customers living near substations may find that 120-volt light bulbs will burn out in a shorter time because the bulbs are not designed to handle higher voltages.

If you have a problem with light bulbs burning out too quickly, you may be more satisfied using bulbs that are made to handle higher voltages. Bulbs rated at 130 volts can be found in many home improvement and lighting stores. Although they may be slightly more expensive, they should last longer.

Do you trim trees that are touching power lines?

Yes, we do. We spend several million dollars a year just to keep trees clear of high-voltage power lines. But, we can’t cut all the trees. While we trim trees on public rights-of-way, for example, we need the permission of the owner if we cut trim a tree growing on private property.

Customers are responsible for trimming trees that interfere with service lines, however. The service line is the power line that runs from the transformer on the pole to the service entrance on your house. If you are planning to cut down trees that are near power lines, call us first and ask for a PUD inspector to give you advice on how to do the job safely.

Customers may want to read our Tree Booklet for information about selecting trees to plant around power lines. Click here for more information.

What causes the interference on my radio?

Radio interference problems can come from many sources. Our technicians tell us that most are caused by appliances or electrical systems in your building or a neighboring building. A few interference problems could be caused by nearby power lines.

Within the home, for example, interference problems can be caused by computers, electric blankets, video games, sewing machines, doorbell transformers, aquarium pumps and heaters, and many other items. A loose fuse in the fuse box, a bad connection in the wiring system, the furnace, the thermostat, fluorescent lights, dimmer switches, and timers also can cause radio interference.

The easiest way to locate the source of radio interference is to get a portable radio, tune it so you are listening to static (not on a station), and move it to various locations in your building. You’re probably close to the source of interference when the noise is loudest.

When are you going to stop people from nailing signs on your poles?

We try, but the problem is extremely hard to enforce. It is against the law to attach signs, posters, or other objects to utility poles. The law was passed because objects on poles can pose a safety hazard to utility workers. Besides, they’re unsightly. Especially troublesome are garage sale signs, real estate signs, political signs, and signs for businesses or lost animals.

In addition to being guilty of a misdemeanor, those who put objects on poles can be held liable for any damage or injury that might result. So, please cooperate in not contributing to this safety problem.

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